January 31, 2021
When, on the other hand, psychic energy regresses, going beyond even the period of early infancy, and breaks into the legacy of ancestral life, the mythological images are awakened: these are the archetypes. (Jung, Jung, & Bollingen Foundation Collection (Library of Congress), 1972, p. 77 para 118)
When I visit cemeteries, I stand in the land of the ancients. I get a feeling of lives lived well before I was born. I step into the time of their lives. I move beyond myself. I move to a world before my existence. At times, I find it hard to imagine what their lives were like and yet I feel I am in familiar territory.
The marker on this grave dominates the scene. The family constructed a gravesite with noticeable symbols for the life buried beneath it. The site captures my imagination with each of them. Those symbols move me into more ancient times where “mythological images are awakened” (Jung, 1972). I wonder if they truly represent the life under it.
I imagine the voice of person under the marker saying, “I am so much more than what you see represented here. There are parts of me I wish they had included in my gravesite.” I also imagine the voice saying, “I wish I had revealed more of who I am.”
The image can be a metaphor for many aspects of life. The above ground marker is my persona, what I show the world. Then, there is what lies beneath, so much more than what I showed the world or what I consciously know. The image also carries symbols of the spirit of life. It reminds me how I am a product of the ancients, their wisdom, their short-comings, and their potential. I am not only what is seen, but also what lives beneath the surface in the timeless eternity.
Our lived life is manifest in our autobiography, written or remembered. Our unlived life is latent – a secret, often even to ourselves. What mysteries lie hidden in our unlived life while we are still alive? How do we access these mysteries? How do we descend into the depths of our unlived potentials, dreams and possibilities? There are two paths to this unlived mystery of us.
Passive path: when the time and opportunity arise for our unconscious to manifest this deeper potential, it slips into our consciousness via dreams, fantasies, synchronicities, accidents, relationships, medical, psychiatric and addiction symptoms. All these are the symbols of our unlived life, pointing the way to these possibilities. This is the default path for most of us.
Active path: for more advanced souls, there is a proactive path to this inner treasure. This is the contemplative path. Several arteries feed into this path. All religious and spiritual traditions give us a glimpse to this source within us. Another artery that feeds into this path include the contemplative practices, e.g., Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, Mindfulness, Centering prayer, Journaling, psychoanalysis, and prayer in general.
Active Imagination is another path to this source (Jung, 1969). A detailed version of this method is found in the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra (Bryant, Patañjali, & Patañjali, 2018; Finger, 2018; Patanjali, 2001; Patanjali; Stoller Miller, 1995; Radhakrishnan & Moore, 1957). Carl Jung amplified this method in his confrontation with his unconscious in the dark night of his soul. This is chronicled in his posthumously published Red Book.(Jung & Shamdasani, 2009).
One method available to each one of us is our creative process. When we draw, paint, write an essay, compose a poetry, sculpt, dance, create music, make a sandcastle in the sand, play – we get a CAT scan or an MRI scan of our unlived potentials. When we draw a Mandala, we are essentially taking an X-Ray of our soul(Jung, 1968)! The key is to learn the language of the symbols; an art that most contemporaries have forgotten yet is embedded in their intuitive psyche. The biggest gift you can give yourself is to cultivate a reflective life to attend to symbols around you.
When we attend to the symbolic dimension of our life, we gradually get access to the deeper layers of our unconscious – I personally prefer the term superconscious and are richly rewarded with the treasure of our soul. We can harvest these treasures in this life rather than wait for future rebirths. Here are the layers of our superconscious that we have potential access to if we are prepared to make the journey into this road less travelled.
When we make this journey, we have the potential to connect with the source, the flow and the wisdom of the universe. Jung called this the Psychoid and later the Unus Mundus. Hindus call it the Brahman awareness. In this flow, all souls are interconnected forming what the Hindus call the Indra’s net(Mumford, Series, Wright, & Gonick, 2002) . When we are transformed into our higher potentials, what Nietzsche (Nietzsche & Parkes, 2005) calls the Ubermensch potentials, via the Indra’s net, we raise the threshold of consciousness in all other souls. This is the power of the small, the individual. We see this in the current phenomenon with the Redditt, Robinhood, GameShop saga.
The question remains for each one of us – do you wish your unlived potentials indicated on your tombstone, or do you wish to live them out NOW. This is the moment. Carpe Diem – seize the moment. This moment of NOW is the cosmic moment when eternity meets transience. NOW is the time to seize the power of the flow of the universe as it intersects with your life. Claim that prize, or you may choose not the cash in your priceless lottery ticket!
We come to the precious present NOW after many lifetimes and incarnations and we will return to it after eternal recurrence in some distant future moment. Where we are, with whom and in what setting and with what purpose is not by chance but by cosmic design. Most of us are oblivious to the sacredness of this moment when our individual life intersects with the flow of the universe. Let us claim it by living each moment to the fullest as we would want enshrined in our tombstone. It may say, “A-Z lived their life to their highest potential aligned with the will of the universe”.
Points to Ponder:
- What symbols mark your life?
- How does a symbol free or contain who you are or want to be?
- What unlived part of you will you bring to the present/future?
- What influence does the story of your life have on others?
- How does the legacy of ancestral life inform you?
- Do you feel that you are fully aware of the NOW?
- How do you reflect on the symbols in your life as they manifest in your dreams, synchronistic events, symptoms and relationships?
- Do you proactively engage the mystery of your symbolic life?
- What methods do you use to engage your symbolic life? Dreams, Active Imagination, Prayer, Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness?
- Do you engage your creative instinct to engage the will and the symbols of the universe that are pointing the way to your program of life and its purpose?
- How do you engage your creative instinct? Drawing, writing, poetry, art, painting, sculpting, music, dancing?
- Do you draw Mandalas to get an X-Ray of your soul’s guidance?
Bryant, E. F., Patañjali, & Patañjali. (2018). The Yoga sūtras of Patañjali : a new edition, translation, and commentary : with insights from the traditional commentators. New Delhi: Macmillan.
Finger, A. N., Wendy. (2018). Tantra of the Yoga Sutra – Essential Wisdom for Living with Awareness and Grace. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Shambala Boulder.
Jung, C. G. (1968). Psychology and alchemy, Volume 12 (2 ed. Vol. 12). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul ; Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press.
Jung, C. G. (1969). The structure and dynamics of the psyche, Volume 8 (2d — ed. Vol. 20). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Jung, C. G., Jung, C. G., & Bollingen Foundation Collection (Library of Congress). (1972). Two essays on analytical psychology (2d ed. Vol. 7). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Jung, C. G., & Shamdasani, S. (2009). The red book = Liber novus (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Mumford, D., Series, C., Wright, D. J., & Gonick, L. (2002). Indra’s pearls : the vision of Felix Klein. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nietzsche, F. W., & Parkes, G. (2005). Thus spoke Zarathustra : a book for everyone and nobody. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Patanjali, B. t. (2001). The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Bongiovanni, Trans.). In (pp. 19). World Public Library Association
P.O. Box 22687
Honolulu, Hawaii 96823: World Public Library Association.
Patanjali; Stoller Miller, B. (1995). Yoga – Discipline of Freedom. Berkeley, Losa Angles, London: University of California Press.
Radhakrishnan, S., & Moore, C. A. (1957). A source book in Indian philosophy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst,
Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist
In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH. D